Published: 17 October 2013
Garden guide wins regional award
The efforts of East Dorset Disctrict Council to promote local gardens and nurseries have been rewarded by the Federation of Small Businesses.
A partnership to encourage visitors to find and enjoy hidden gardens and specialist nurseries in East Dorset has been named ‘Most Innovative Small Business Friendly Programme, Project or Campaign’ by the Wessex Region of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

Rachel Limb, Tourism Manager at East Dorset District Council spearheaded the ‘Specialist Nurseries and Hidden Gardens of East Dorset’ initiative and production of a new guide to promote the area at local and national garden shows.

The guide was created to encourage visitors to the area to find the best places to buy quality plants, and where to enjoy walled gardens and historic garden buildings. It also provides details of local accommodation, including country cottages and an Edwardian country home – all with their own delightful gardens to enjoy.

The FSB praised the initiative for providing horticultural businesses with new routes to market, new sales opportunities and access to wider promotional skills and advice. 
It showcased East Dorset as an area to visit and to purchase quality plants, whilst promoting sales of plants through traditional and new marketing channels.

The award was part of the fifth annual FSB Small Business Friendly Awards designed to identify the best small business-friendly initiatives undertaken by the region’s local authorities.

Chairman of East Dorset District Council, Cllr Malcolm Birr said, “It is so important for the council to work with local businesses to boost the rural economy. I think this is a great initiative and I am delighted that it has been recognised by this award.”

Representatives from the gardens and nurseries mentioned in the new guide gather at the award ceremony.

Rachel Limb said, “This has been a wonderful project to be involved in. The nursery owners and local accommodation providers have all been so keen to work together and to form links, which has made it a really positive experience. I hope more can be done to build on the strong foundations that have been put in place.

“There is already an active Facebook page on which we are sharing local horticultural news and information and plenty of new ideas are being put forward such as an annual plant fair.”

Neil Lucas, owner of Knoll Gardens, one of the gardens featured in the ‘Specialist Nurseries and Hidden Gardens of East Dorset’ guide, commented, “By definition, specialist nurseries are usually small, but their importance shouldn’t be overlooked as they are the guardians of many important garden plants. I’m delighted that the work of the tourism team at East Dorset has been recognised in this way.”

‘Specialist Nurseries and Hidden Gardens’ is a partnership initiative, spearheaded by East Dorset District Council.

Copies of the guide are available from the Wimborne Tourist information Centre on 01202 886116 or you can download it from the website:
Reported by Chris Allen  

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